After winning 20 consecutive games of Jeopardy! (and earning the title of the most winning female contestant in the show's 30-year history), reigning champ Julia Collins ended her streak on Monday's episode. The 31-year-old business consultant's reign on the top-rated TV quiz show came to an end when Massachusetts investment operations manager Brian Loughnane beat her in the Final Jeopardy! category "Oscar Winning Writers."
Collins sped through categories like "Baby on Board" and "Historic People in Art" in the earlier rounds of the game before getting into jeopardy in the Final Jeopardy! round. She took a major gamble, betting her entire $11,000 bank on the clue: "Winning for 1999, this New England writer is the last person to win an Oscar for adapting his own novel."
The trivia whiz guessed, "Who is Michael Chabon?" instead of the correct question, which was "Who is John Irving?," the writer of The Cider House Rules.
"I wasn't too confident, and I guessed writer Michael Chabon," Collins later said. "It was just one of those things, and I kind of knew I didn't have the right answer when I was writing it down, so I was not surprised."
Collins, who won a total of $428,100 on Jeopardy!, is the third-highest nontournament money winner in the show's history, and she now holds the No. 2 spot on the all-time consecutive-wins list. Ken Jennings is the show's top champion, winning 74 straight games and $2.5 million a decade ago.
After the show, Collins revealed that she had a certain sense about her 21st game. "I had a feeling my number was up when I was in second place going into Final Jeopardy!" she said. "That hadn't happened to me before. No excuses: I got outplayed that day. Losing isn't fun, but I couldn't have asked for a better experience being on Jeopardy!."
As for the secret behind this brainiac's impressive knowledge base, Collins told host Alex Trebek she is constantly learning. "I spend a lot of my spare time absorbing information," she revealed. "I love to read; I watch a lot of television, probably more than is good for me. I like to go to museums. So really, my hobbies are things that have helped me a lot." She told Trebek she plans to do some traveling with her winnings, and hopes to visit the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Of course, Jeopardy! fans haven't seen the last of Julia Collins. She'll return for the show's Tournament of Champions next season, so she could end up with a bit more cash to spend abroad.